Five unexpected behaviours to expect from your teen

Between the ages of 8-12, your lovely child will go through a crazy stage called puberty. It will be awkward and unpredictable, but it’s only the beginning. Between the ages of 12-18 you may wonder if they are still your child. They will have lots of feelings, unrealistic desires and genuinely believe that reality TV is reality. Here is a list of five unexpected behaviours that you should expect from your teen.

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1. They will speak a different language

It’s normal to hear your teen using nothing but grunts, noises and weird slang to communicate. Some of these noises may sound like they are swearing in Swahili or imitating a goat. And that’s totally normal. Our language is developing faster than ever in this technological era and it will be hard for you to keep up. If you can’t understand them it probably means that there is a group of people who do understand them. This means that they belong somewhere, and that’s not a bad thing.

2. You won’t be funny anymore

When they were seven, they would laugh for hours if you said, “Venison’s dear, isn’t it?” But now at 16 they may just look at you with pity and disgust. (Little do they realise that in the future they will be regurgitating the same jokes to their kids). While your precious darlings are in the process of becoming adults, they develop their own sense of humour and are desperately trying to be cool. Sometimes this means they won’t laugh when you leave coffee cups on the lawn and tell them that it’s muggy outside. But don’t stop having fun. Fun is the glue that holds families together.

3. They will get into a relationship with a screen

Their phone will seem like their best friend. They’ll spend as much time with it as possible and they will wonder what it’s getting up to when they are not around. It’s easy to think that young people are addicted to technology, but what they are really addicted to is connection. Avoid taking away screen time without offering some alternative form of connection in its place. There are plenty of great ways to connect – sports, board games, or technology-free coffee dates.

4. They will do things that you don’t want them to

Every normal teenager will test the boundaries. They will break curfew, try and keep secrets or roller skate in their undies over the harbour bridge. (Okay, that last one is not normal.) You don’t want your wild teenager doing these things, and you should tell them that. Bestselling author, Diane Levy, recommends that you use this line – “You can do that if you want, but if you do, you are doing it without my permission.” Most teenagers don’t actually like disappointing their parents.

5. They still care about your opinion

While it might seem like the only thing they care about is their friends’ opinion of them and wearing the right shoes, your opinion is still incredibly important. A study involving around 12,000 teenagers found that adults have a powerful effect on their children’s behaviour, right through the high school years. As a parent, your job is to tell them what they need to hear even if it’s not what they want to hear. Often it doesn’t seem like they are listening, but trust that your voice will be in their head because your opinion matters. In fact, over 50 percent of New Zealand young people said the reason they didn’t drink at a party was because they didn’t want to let their parents down. (Read the results of the Youth 2000 study here).

Attend a Toolbox parenting course

Toolbox courses inspire and equip whānau. They are bursting with great advice, humour and encouragement, offering practical strategies and insights into developmental stages. Parents leave reassured that challenges are common to all families and that they’re not alone on their parenting journey. The courses are run over a number of weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The five courses – Building Awesome Whānau, Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, Intermediate Years, and Teenage Years. Find out more and register here.


About Author

Christian Gallen

Christian is a Senior Presenter and National Trainer for Attitude. He has spoken to over 100,000 young people nationwide during his long presenting career. Christian manages all the social media and online content for Attitude and is passionate about seeing young people make great choices online and offline.


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    I like this article. It is so spot-on.

    1. They will speak a different language—My teenage son always ends his sentence with “Legit” meaning “That’s true” or “GG” meaning “Good Game”, whatever that is. As long as he doesn’t curse.

    2. You won’t be funny anymore—This doesn’t apply to me. Because I sometimes, ok most of the times, interchange words. When I asked my teens “Is Michael Schumacher the best RACIST in the world?” They almost died laughing.

    3. They will get into a relationship with a screen—True! But he’s more addicted to video games than social media.

    4. They will do things that you don’t want them to—My favorite line is “You can do that if you want, but if you do, you should be ready facing the consequences of your actions.” Then, I turn my back and pray silently.

    5. They still care about your opinion—Oh, I know! And I think that is so sweet.